Due to technological progress, the infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR) has become a global phenomenon. European customs cannot act alone in reducing the number of IPR infringing goods arriving at the EU borders. The combined efforts of the customs authorities of all the countries affected by the production, distribution and final marketing of the goods are required. International cooperation is therefore an essential component of the EU's strategy for the effective enforcement of IPR.
The annual reports on customs detentions recorded at the external borders of the EU indicate that China is the main source country from where IPR infringing goods are shipped to the EU. Cooperation between China and the EU authorities on the enforcement of IPR is therefore paramount.
Customs became engaged since 2009, when the EU and China signed the first Action Plan concerning EU-China Customs Cooperation on IPR. Since then that Action Plan has been renewed several times, building on and further developing the previous version.
The Action Plans include all dimensions of IP border enforcement by customs, from risk analysis, to sharing of intelligence, partnership with the private sector, exchanges of best practice, and cooperation between customs and the other IP law enforcement authorities. In addition to the General Administration of China Customs and the Commission services, customs in several seaports and airports in China and throughout the EU ensure engagement at local level under the Action Plan.